KOLKATA: Left and Congress drew a blank in Bengal, a state in which one or the other had been in government for the first 64 years since Independence. It was a first for both parties in the state and happened despite the two former rivals joining hands and drafting in a third partner.
A quarter of a century ago, in the 1996 assembly polls in the state, Left and Congress won 280 of the 294 seats and 86.3% of all the votes polled between themselves. Even five years ago, they had 76 seats between and 38% of the votes. Now they’ve been reduced to no seats and under10% of votes — 5.5% for the Left and 2.9% for Congress.
In the 23 years since it was formed, Trinamool Congress has steadily eaten into its parent party’s vote, and leaders; the process is now near-complete. For the Left, the erosion has been much more sudden and dramatic, with anecdotal evidence indicating it has lost some of its base to the BJP and the rest to the Trinamool, developments confounding all political logic.
Unlike in Kerala, where the Left successfully led a twopronged battle, the Left-Congress, fighting against BJP and Trinamool in Bengal, got subsumed in the Trinamool-BJP binary.
Congress faced a rout in Murshidabad, Malda and North Dinajpur apparently because the party’s minority voters switched over to Trinamool. Congress candidates lost traditional bastions such as Lalgola, Farakka in Murshidabad, Sujapur, Mothabari, Malatipur in Malda, Raiganj, Goalpokhor in North Dinajpur among others, while the Left lost Jadavpur, Siliguri, and Chanditala in Hooghly. The Left couldn’t pick up a single seat from its erstwhile strongholds East Burdwan and West Burdwan.